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T/V Puerto Rican; San Francisco Bay, California

San Francisco Bay, California | 1984-Oct-31

Initial Notification: On October 31, 1984, at 0324, an explosion occurred on board the Tank Vessel Puerto Rican outside the San Francisco Bay Entrance Channel. The vessel was loaded with 91,984 barrels of lube oil and lube oil additives and 8,500 barrels of bunker fuel. Two crewmen and the pilot from the vessel were thrown into the water by the blast. The pilot and one crewman were recovered with serious burns. One crewman remained missing and was presumed dead after an extensive search. The explosion caused a relatively minor release of oil. Flames from the initial and subsequent explosions shot as high as 1000 feet into the sky. The fires on board the vessel were extinguished by late afternoon on November 1. Following the explosion, the USCG On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) ordered the vessel towed out of the vicinity of San Francisco Bay. The intent of the order was to minimize the potential for catastrophic environmental effect from a massive release of oil. On the basis of trajectory forecasts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommended that the vessel be towed to the vicinity of a nearby ocean dumping site (37 32 N, 122 59 W). This position is at the continental shelf break, 10 miles SE of the Farallon Islands. The ongoing firefighting and cooling efforts were hampered as the vessel moved farther from shore. The weather worsened on November 2, with seas as high as 16 feet and wind speeds up to 35 knots. Salvage and inspection activities ceased for the day. On November 3 at 0000, the Puerto Rican broke in two, releasing 25,000-35,000 barrels of its cargo and an undetermined amount of the 8,500 barrels of bunker fuel onboard. The stern section sank one mile inside the boundary of the Point Reyes/Farallon Islands National Marine Sanctuary, taking most of the 8,500 barrels of bunker fuel with it. Keystone Shipping Co. of Philadelphia immediately assumed financial responsibility for the cleanup. They maintained responsibility throughout the response. From November 3-18, personnel from the USCG, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of California, and numerous contractors and volunteers were involved with the response. On November 18, the forebody of the Puerto Rican was towed into the San Francisco Bay for repairs. USCG district 11. Keyword: Corexit 9527, U.S. Navy Superintendent of Salvage (NAVSUPSALV), Pacific Strike Team (PST), Open Water Oil Containment and Recovery System (OWOCRS), boom, absorbents, vacuum truck, Intervention on the High Seas Act, International Bird Rescue and Research Center (IBRRC), fire, explosion, sinking..

Incident Details
Products of concern:Lube Oil, Lube Oil Additives, Bunker Fuel
Latitude (approximate): 37° 30.00′ North
Longitude (approximate): 123° 1.98′ West
On-Water Recovery: Unknown/Not applicable
Shoreline Cleanup: Unknown/Not applicable
Dispersants: Applied
In-Situ Burn: Unknown/Not applicable
Bioremediation: Unknown/Not applicable